Most people like to have a sense that they are in control of their lives, to have a plan and to be making steady progress toward their goals.
But sometimes, out of nowhere, we are blindsided.
Like many people in our community, my life took an unexpected turn last Sunday when a severe weather event overwhelmed our community and caused significant damage to a number of homes, roads and bridges across the Rotorua district.
The devastation some people have experienced is heartbreaking.
Dozens of families in our community are now facing the prospect of being displaced from their homes for at least some weeks. In some cases it will be months.
Over the past few days I have visited a number of people who's houses have been water damaged.
The scene that confronts you when you walk into their homes is tragic and distressing.
In spite of the damage they have suffered, the people I have spoken to have shown remarkable resilience and are stoically working through the mess they are having to contend with.
I have also had the privilege of observing the fantastic work being done by those who are responding to the State of Emergency that has been declared in our community. Before the official call went out for staff to return to work, a number of council employees took the initiative to come into work knowing the community was taking a hit and people would need their help.
Likewise, the response from the whole Rotorua community has been fantastic, with people taking the initiative to help others out – from assisting to pump water from houses to providing accommodation to neighbours whose houses had been rendered uninhabitable.
One of the things that quickly became evident to my family and I when we moved to Rotorua about 15 years ago was the incredible passion and commitment so many locals have for this community.
On many occasions over the years I have seen how that passion has driven people to put in that extra little bit of effort that has ended up making all the difference in the world for others.
Not every community is as caring or resilient, so it is something we should not only be grateful for but should also nurture and protect.
I have now worked for two large service organisations in this town, NZ Police and Rotorua Lakes Council.
One of the best parts of both jobs has been the fantastic commitment of the people in both organisations to serve this community to the best of their abilities.
Prior to the events of last weekend I have seen many instances where people from both organisations have gone well beyond what could be reasonably expected of them in order to do the very best they can to help others out.
However, I am also mindful that a lot of people are hurting and feeling frustrated the response effort is not happening as quickly as they would like.
I get it. I feel the same way.
The difficulty is the impact of that heavy rain that fell last Sunday was enormous.
I am writing this three days after the event, and we are still trying to develop a full picture of what has occurred.
Every day council staff are learning about more people who have been affected and infrastructure that has been damaged.
The scale of damage is huge and it is going to take time to both scope the damage, develop a plan for the recovery phase and compete the remedial works that are required to restore both people's homes and damaged infrastructure.
There is a saying that, "life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent how you react to it". It's true.
In spite of all the challenges and the uncertainties we are facing, there are some things I am sure of.
One is the capability and resilience of the people in this community.
Another is the willingness and generosity of the people in this community to help others out, and to work together to get through this.
A third is the rock solid commitment of the people in the service organisations who are responding to this event to do the very best they can for all those who have been affected.
It's going to take time – but we are going to recover.
Bruce Horne is a retired police inspector who was the Rotorua police area commander from 2003 to 2016.